Open letter to Kim Davis

Kim Davis,

I am writing this letter in response to the statement you made in regards to issuing marriage licenses.  (This statement is found in the Washington Post and the Liberty Council, among other places.)

You said "I love my job and the people of Rowan County."  I believe that recent events are evidence contrary to this statement.  Part of your job, as county clerk, is to issue marriage licenses to any of the citizens of Rowan County who have met the requirements set by the government, which now includes couples of the same sex.  You have expressed not just lack of love, but complete distaste and fear of filling this duty.  You have said that it is a matter of Heaven versus Hell for you.  That if you issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, you are consigning your soul to Hell.  That means that you do not love your job.  You fear your job.  You are afraid that if you fulfill your job, you will be sent to Hell for it.

You said "It is a matter of religious liberty, which is protected under the First Amendment."  That is not the issue at all.  You have the freedom to practice any religion that you wish.  You are free to worship as you choose and even to proselytize to other people, to profess your beliefs to others and share them as you choose.  You are free to believe that homosexuality is sinful.  You are free to believe that same-sex couples are going to Hell.  You are free to believe that God has condemned two men or two women falling in love and wanting to share their lives together.  No one has prevented you from any of that.

However, what you are not free to do is to use your religion as an excuse to fail to complete your job as is required of you by law.  If your religion prohibits you from doing something that your job requires, you must find another job.  By denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples, you are not freely practicing your own religion.  You are denying equal protection under the law to gay people.  You are pushing your beliefs onto other people, which is prohibited by that same First Amendment that you cited in your statement.  You are free to believe that homosexuality is sin, but the gay couples in your county who wish to be married are equally free to believe that it is not sinful.  And you are required by that same Constitution that you mentioned to allow them to hold those beliefs, just as dearly as you hold your own.

You are not being forced to marry a woman.  You are not being forced to have sex with anyone.  You are not being forced to participate in any way in any homosexual activity.  You are expected, by law, to complete the tasks your office requires of you.  That is all.  Your office requires you to issue marriage licenses, so you are being forced to issue marriage licenses.  If you feel that you cannot in good conscience issue those licenses, then you are admitting that you are unfit to complete the tasks necessary to be Rowan County Clerk, and should therefore resign your post.

It is very fortunate that you have done your job well and have raised money for your county.  That makes it all the more unfortunate that you refuse to issue marriage licenses, since that makes you unfit for your office.

You said "I want to continue to perform my duties, but I also am requesting what our Founders envisioned – that conscience and religious freedom would be protected."  First of all, issuing marriage licenses is one of your duties.  So if you want to continue to perform your duties, then you must issue marriage licenses.  If you are unwilling to do that, then you cannot claim that you want to continue performing your duties.  Secondly, when the Founders envisioned freedom of religion, they did not envision what you are attempting to practice here.  You are attempting to force everyone in your county to conform to your own personal religious beliefs.  You are not allowing the gay people of your county the same freedom you want so desperately for yourself--the freedom to believe as they choose.  If they believe that marrying someone of the same sex is okay, then they should be allowed to do that, just as you are allowed to marry someone of the opposite sex since that is what you believe God wants you to do.

Sincerely,
Keith Penrod